Anything short of an Olympic gold medal simply won’t be enough for the United States women’s national soccer team. That’s the level of expectation and pressure the USWNT faces when it plays its first match at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday (4:30 am ET), entering the tournament with a dominating 44-game unbeaten streak.
But American women, big favorites to win their fifth Olympic gold medal in soccer, will face a longtime nemesis in that first group stage match: Sweden, ranked No. 5 in the world, is also the last team to rebound the United States from a major tournament in the quarterfinals of the last Olympics. USWNT players say early elimination will be a great motivation in Tokyo.
Sweden will be the USWNT’s toughest opponent in Group G, which also includes Australia (ranked No. 9 in the world) and New Zealand (No. 22). In addition to the 2016 Olympic victory (on a penalty shootout), the Swedes are also the latest team to lead the USWNT to a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match on April 10 in Sweden (photo below) . It’s the only game the United States haven’t been able to win since January 2019, and it needed a late penalty kick only to come out with a draw.
If history repeats itself on Wednesday and the United States fails to beat Sweden, it will not have the same consequences. In the group stage, all the USWNT has to do is finish in the top two of Group G and advance to the single-elimination quarter-finals. The top two third-ranked players also pass.
How to watch United States Olympic football against Sweden
- Date: Wednesday July 21
- Hour: 4:30 am ET
- TV channels: US Network
- Spanish television: Telemundo
- TV replays: NBCSN (8:30 am ET and 6 pm ET)
- Transmission: fuboTV, NBCOlympics.com, TelemundoDeportes.com, the NBC Sports app and the Telemundo Deportes app (with user authentication)
USA vs. Sweden will air live on USA Network and Telemundo at 4:30 am ET. It is also scheduled to be streamed later that day on NBCSN at 8:30 am ET and 6 pm ET. NBCSN can be broadcast on fuboTV (7-day free trial).
All Olympic football games will be broadcast in the US on NBCOlympics.com, TelemundoDeportes.com, the NBC Sports app, and the Telemundo Deportes app, all with user authentication.
MORE: Complete Olympic Women’s Soccer Calendar
Projected USWNT vs. Sweden Lineups
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski is in his first major tournament at the helm of the USWNT and is not expected to provide any surprises with his lineup picks, which are sure to come under great scrutiny, as has been the case with USWNT coaches in major tournaments.
The only real question is the retention status of midfielder Julie Ertz (above), who is normally a regular starter but has been sidelined with a knee injury since May. She did not recover in time to play any of the set-up matches before the Olympics, but she has been seen in full practice in Tokyo.
Although conventional practice is to make it easy for players to jump into action after a long injury absence and to give them minutes off the bench, Ertz is such an important part of the team and this is such an important game, it wouldn’t be all that shocking. see him. its beginning. If he doesn’t, Lindsey Horan would revert to Ertz’s job, as he has during his injury break.
The Swedes played a five-defender defense line against the US in April and are expected to redeploy it to ensure they can once again frustrate the Americans with a strong defensive stance. But even if the Swedes relax, they are talented in attack and their three forwards will be a challenge.
MORE: US Women’s Olympic Team Roster
USWNT Projected Starters (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Alyssa Naeher – 2-Crystal Dunn, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 17-Abby Dahlkemper, 5-Kelley O’Hara – 3-Samantha Mewis, 9-Lindsey Horan, 16-Rose Lavelle – 15-Megan Rapinoe, 10-Carli Lloyd, 11-Christen Press
USWNT Projected Substitutes: 18-Adrianna Franch-GK, 12-Tender Davidson, 14-Emily Sonnett, 8-Julie Ertz, 19-Catarina Macario, 7-Tobin Heath, 13-Alex Morgan. Screened not to participate: 22-Jane Campbell-GK, 20-Casey Krueger, 6-Kristie Mewis, 21-Lynn Williams
Sweden Projected Headlines (5-2-3, left to right): 1-Hedvig Lindahl – 2-Jonna Andersson, 6-Magdalena Eriksson, 14-Nathalie Bjorn, 13-Amanda Ilestedt, 4-Hanna Glas – 17-Caroline Seger, 9-Kosovare Asllani – 8-Lina Hurtig, 11-Stina Blackstenius, 10-Sofia Jakobsson
Projected Substitutes for Sweden: 12-Jennifer Falk-GK, 3-Emma Kullberg, 5-Hanna Bennison, 15-Olivia Schough, 7-Madelen Janogy, 19-Anna Anvegard, 18-Fridolina Rolfo. Projected not to participate: 22-Zecira Musovic-GK, 16-Filippa Angeldal, 20-Julia Roddar, 21-Rebecka Blomqvist
USA vs Sweden odds and prediction
The USWNT can hear noise and when the pressure is higher it is a team that always seems to respond. Although it is only the opening game, there will definitely be an urgency in his game, fueled by the rematch for 2016.
And the numbers definitely point to a USWNT opening win. The team’s all-time Olympic record is 25-2-5 (beating teams 64-32) and they won the first game in five of six trips to the Olympics, the only blemish being a loss to Norway in 2008 ( 2-0). .
MORE: Best Bets for the USWNT Olympic Tournament
But it will be a close match because these two teams know each other too well. The US has faced Sweden in major tournaments more than any other nation (nine times) and the familiarity shows in the results: only 7-3-6 in the last 15 meetings dating back to 2010 and seven of the last eight meetings between the United States and Sweden have ended in a draw or a goal win for one of the teams. The United States won the other match by a 2-0 result at the 2019 World Cup.
Given all of the above, the published odds of a win by a US goal are not attractive. The way to play a tight duel could be a look at the tie in the first half (+110) or the score of both teams (+125); there is a lot of attacking talent on both sides. A half-time draw coupled with a full-time American win is available at +255.
Prediction: United States 2, Sweden 1
Fees courtesy of DraftKings
- Sweden to Win: +750
- Draw: +320
- USA to win: -235
- Both teams will score: +125
- Sweden double chance (win or draw): +185
- First half draw: +110
- Tie at halftime / United States win at full time: +255